Win At Home: 1996 Olympics

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SPEARS

Contributed by Kim Graham

In 1996, I attended the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the privilege of watching world-class athletes compete as a culmination of a lifetime of training. I believe Olympic athletes are especially disciplined. Imagine working on something for four years and showcasing your work to the world for ten seconds. That is the case with 100-meter runners. They spend their entire life perfecting this short but difficult race only to realize there is only one winner. The race is only short compared to every other event in track and field. Have you ever run the 100-meter dash? Is it not a short race? 

During those Olympics, sprinter Michael Johnson became the only male athlete in history to win both the 200-meter and 400-meter events at the same Olympics. Johnson is tied for most gold medals all-time for a sprinter, holding several records, including the four-by-four 100-meter relay world record, which he anchored.

The relays are my favorite. I like to watch the four-by-four 100 and the 100-meter relay. The art of the exchange is a thing of beauty. As a speaker and writer, I often find a metaphor, word picture or example in every part of life. The amount of teamwork and concentration it takes to perfect a baton exchange while running faster than 99% of the world is fascinating. The possibility and sometimes the reality of dropping that baton is gut-wrenching. These make for good sermons and motivational speeches. 

What is your favorite race? Are you a NASCAR fan? Although I was born and raised in Florida, I have never seen the Daytona 500. Every February, over 40 cars line up for this incredible race. Many people watch for the wrecks, which are impossible to turn away from.

There are several incredible races, including the Indianapolis 500, Kentucky Derby and Boston Marathon.

The most incredible race is the human race. Do you realize we are all on the same team? Our nationality, skin color and other differences make us a more diverse team. On a football team, there are over 50 positions with different responsibilities which require different skill sets. A professional football player can be a hall of famer and never touch the football? The gunner on the punt team is different from the wing on the extra point team. The snapper on the punt team is totally different from the snapper on the field goal team, which is different from the snapper we refer to as the center on offense. 

I started playing football in 1985. After I finished playing in 2001, I started coaching. What I have realized over the years is 90% of people do not understand or know the game of football. However, the sport is so popular that most people believe they know the game well. From sports commentators to the loud guy in the barbershop, I have heard people confidently communicate their ignorance. I say nothing; I listen. 

The same is true with the human race. I sit and listen to people say,  “all Blacks do this,” or ” all whites do that.” I have heard confident communication about Asians, Hispanics and Mulattos. I am not an expert on the subject of race, but spending time in different environments gives me an appreciation for diversity. 

For two years, I worked for Disney Cruise Line as part of close to 1,000 workers from 40 different countries. Before working on the ship, I thought all people from South Africa were black. I thought most people from Europe were not black. I had never seen a person with my skin complexion and hair like an Asian person. I was so ignorant and sheltered. I find that people who do not appreciate the difference of others often have not spent time with those people. It is like saying, “I hate Brussel sprouts,” when you have never tried Brussel sprouts. 

If we are going to win at home as a nation, we must realize diversity is our gift to one another.   

Three ways to Win At Home:

1. Intentionally spend time with someone different

2. Ask uncomfortable questions with class and tact

3. Realize not all people who look alike are alike. 

I don’t know about you, but I want to Win At Home.

I am praying for you and your family.

Win At Home is a series of opinion articles written by author and motivational speaker Willie Spears. Learn more at www.williespears.com.

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